Any theft crime conviction can cause unmeasurable damage to a person’s reputation and career, not to mention its effect on housing, access to public benefits, and future job opportunities.
An employer in Tennessee is less likely to hire someone who has been convicted of or charged with any theft crime, especially burglary. That’s why it is critical to protect yourself against burglary charges with the help of a criminal defense attorney.
What is the Crime of Burglary in Tennessee?
Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) § 39-14-402 defines the crime of burglary as entering a vehicle or building – other than a habitation – “without the effective consent of the property owner” and with the intent to commit assault, felony, or theft inside.
In Tennessee, you may be convicted of burglary if the state prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally or knowingly:
- Entered a building (except a habitation) without the owner’s consent, and you did so with the intent to commit a felony, assault, or theft; or
- Remained hidden in a building with the intent to commit any of the above-mentioned crimes; or
- Entered a building and committed or merely attempted to commit any of the crimes; or
- Entered any motor vehicle (passenger car, truck, trailer, airplane, etc.) and had the intent to commit, or committed, or attempted to commit the above-mentioned crimes.
The Three Degrees of Burglary in Tennessee
Tennessee’s criminal law recognizes three degrees of burglary:
- Simple burglary can be committed either in a motor vehicle (Class E felony) or a building (Class D felony). Individuals convicted of simple burglary face a fine of up to $3,000 or $5,000, respectively. Class E felony is also punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years, while Class D felony brings prison time of up to five years. Note: Penalties may increase in aggravated circumstances.
- Aggravated burglary is committed when a person enters a habitation with the intent to commit a crime. Habitation is defined as any building designed to house people overnight and is charged as a Class C felony (penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and maximum imprisonment of six years).
- Especially aggravated burglary is committed when a person enters a building or habitation with the intent to commit a crime and causes serious bodily injury to anyone inside. The crime is a Class B felony, which comes with a penalty of up to $25,000 and no more than 12 years in prison.
Defenses Against Burglary Charges in Tennessee
Here at the Law Offices of Burch & Lockhart, our criminal defense attorneys strongly believe in fighting for your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, especially when being accused of a crime as serious as burglary.
In Tennessee, the following defenses may be used to protect a defendant against a criminal charge of burglary:
- Lack of intent to commit a crime
- Intoxication (A. § 39-11-503)
- Insanity (A. § 39-11-501)
- Duress (A. § 39-11-504)
- Entrapment (A. § 39-11-505)
Burglary charges are difficult to prove if the state prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence (e.g., evidence that you intended to commit a crime). Thus, your best decision is to hire a Manchester burglary defense lawyer to review your case and build a strong defense. Contact our attorneys at Law Offices of Burch & Lockhart to get a comprehensive evaluation of your case. Call at 931-723-7997.